Jonathan Lis
June 21, 2010 - 12:00am

Noam Shalit, father of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, lashed out Monday at the government over its decision to ease the land siege on the Gaza Strip and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of surrendering to international pressure.

"Yesterday, in a confident voice and without compromise Netanyahu announced the change in policy on the Gaza siege," said Noam Shalit. "In other words, he announced, 'I surrendered to international pressure that was applied to us' and we are asking where Gilad stands in this equation. We are asking where is Gilad, our son?"

Shalit appeared at a Knesset hearing to mark four years of captivity for his son, who was captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid. Only four MKs attended the hearing.

Shalit addressed talk of the siege, saying, "With all the stories, with the pasta, coriander and Bamba, they said it was ineffective, but there are the few tools Israel has [to contend with Hamas]. This was one of the tools, and now that the siege has been broken it is lost."

"We weren't surprised, its just another failure in a chain of the Israeli government's failures," Shalit said adding that in fact this is the second government that has failed to return his son from captivity.

"There is only one this to test this against, the test of reality, there is no other criteria to gage it against, there are no partial successes," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee which convened earlier that "the minute I took office I appointed Hagai Hadas, which led to the start of negotiations with the German mediator."

Netanyahu said that after receiving the video recording of Gilad talking in September 2009, the mediator proposed that Israel release 450 Hamas prisoners and 550 prisoners as a gesture toward Egypt. "This was not a simple proposition, but we expressed intent" Netanyahu said, adding that "the Hamas has not responded yet."

"I have spoken to Noam and Aviva Shalit several times and told them that I understand them and identify with their terrible suffering and expectation," he said.

"We need to remember though, that my responsibility is both to return Gilad to his family and his nation, and also to take care of the safety and security of the people of Israel," Netanyahu said.


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